Personal Autopilot
Snapshot: Kayla is busy
Entering the transport pod Ant spied Kayla, an old hobby friend of his. Making his way over he tapped her on the shoulder as he sat down.

"Hey Kayla, fancy seeing you here! How are the kids?" She smiled in a friendly way, though it didn't quite reach her eyes.

"Hello Anthony" she said rather stiffly. "The sophont you are addressing is unavailable and is not receiving messages at this time. However this body's autopilot is authorised to reveal that the children are prospering and to thank you for your inquiry." Dully she turned her head and blandly looked forward. Somewhat chagrined, Ant spawned a virch and enabled his own autopilot, staring vacantly back.


A Personal Autopilot, sometimes colloquially called a Chatbot, is a standard exoself feature accessed through a DNI. When a vot is involved, the Autopilot system sometimes is called an AutoVot and its vot, a Pilot. In locales where this functionality is widely used, often to filter unwanted communications, it sometimes is called a Personal Administrator or Secretarial Aide. When optimized to mimic its user, the vot is usually called a Simm.

However it is implemented, this artificial social interface provides the conscious ability to delegate mundane tasks to a sub-persona or stand-in, while the user's primary consciousness is concentrating on something else. A crude approximation of this ability seems to have always existed in hu, some xenosophonts, and some early Terragen sophtwares and provolves, but without intentional conscious control. A form of disassociation, its use would often be discovered only when a person realized that e had accomplished a task but had no clear memory - or no memory whatsoever - of doing it. In contrast, use of a Personal Autopilot is controlled. It can be enabled or disabled at will and users can immediately recover all of the associated memories if that is desired, as when a conversation becomes particularly interesting.

Typical situations which might justify the use of a Personal Autopilot include traveling in a familiar area, engaging in routine labor, attending dull parties or meetings, or accomplishing a variety of repetitive activities, especially when high precision is required. Escaping a physically or emotionally uncomfortable or painful situation can be another reason. Automatic triggering of an Autopilot sometimes occurs, especially when extreme physical or mental danger is detected and determined to be beyond the scope of the user's emergency ainstincts and skill modules. When movement between virtual and physical activities happens frequently, a Personal Autopilot might be used in either environment, perhaps to help maintain the user's physical health through rest or exercise. In the meantime, a user's primary consciousness can be doing something that e considers more interesting; such as learning a new skill, experiencing some sort of entertainment, or communicating with family members and friends. Although extremely rare in the Current Era, a variant of this functionality sometimes has been used to assist those with some types of autism.

The extent to which an Autopilot is considered socially acceptable varies from culture to culture. The Negentropy Alliance discourages its use since they want their citizens to be personally responsible for minimizing entropy at all times. In contrast, the Utopians tend to encourage them, especially in support of the Fantasy stage of the Triadic Cycle. Many polities have no official stance, letting local custom take precedence. Sometimes a Personal Autopilot is required to announce itself, but in other cases this is optional. Depending on the circumstances, if the unannounced delegation of one's actions to a stand-in is discovered, it may be considered an insult, since it implies that current activities, participating in a meeting, for example, are unimportant to the user.

With little or no modification, Personal Autopilot functionality can be used for camouflage. Some social situations necessitate more or less permanently hiding a sophont's actual motivations behind a mask. This has been called behavioral crypsis or Baroquification An extreme class of usage might be when most or all of a sophont's actions in ril are delegated to a stand-in while all conscious activities take place in a shared or private virtual world. Depending on the situation or local culture, such extensive use of a Personal Autopilot may be viewed as a symptom of some form of mental injury or illness. Seeking medical advice, either from professionals or one's own medisystem, might be appropriate. If an individual or group filters their interactions while "contemplating the whichness of the why" to the extent that they fall into pure solipsism and effectively cease to interact with anyone else, virtual or corporeal, external intervention may be considered appropriate, although standards for this can again vary widely depending on local culture.

Forceful intervention may be necessary when an individual or group filtering all of their interactions decides that the primary world - corporeal or virtual - is a threat to their safety, peace and quiet, or even less critical experiences. Such a maladaption can lead to seeking to eliminate the perceived threat, which might include anyone who attempts to interact with them, whether intentionally or incidentally, perhaps just as a side effect of going about their own lives.

On a more positive note, in addition to escapism, Autopilot functionality can be used to create and maintain multiple foci of consciousness. A particular sophont might have a rich and complicated life, maintaining separate identities dedicated to traveling, eating meals, sleeping, or interacting with automation and other data services. An individual might sequence through these existences, delegating the identity they left behind to autopilot. This kind of multi-lifestyle can be a transition stage to group mind augmentation as autopilots are gradually replaced by local instances of sophonce running in parallel with other streams of experience. Alternatively, the separate series of experiences can enhance a single stream of consciousness by appropriately merging independent sequences of memories. Expanding one's awareness in either of these ways can be a small step toward ascension.
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Development Notes
Text by Selden,
Iancampbell, Todd Drashner, Rynn, Steve Bowers, The Astronomer, TSSL
Initially published on 14 December 2023.